Uniformly-spaced apertures or subapertures of large, densely-sampled, discrete linear receiver arrays are often used in remote sensing to increase the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) by coherent beamforming that reduces noise coming from directions outside the signal beam. To avoid spatial aliasing or the presence of grating lobes in real spatial directions, the uniformly-spaced array inter-element spacing d
sets a limit on the maximum frequency
of signals suitable for beamforming with the array, where c is the medium’s wave propagation speed. Here, we show that a nonuniformly-spaced array, for instance, formed by combining multiple uniformly-spaced subapertures of a nested linear array, can significantly enhance the array angular resolution while simultaneously avoiding dominant grating lobes in real angular space, even for signals with frequencies beyond the maximum that the array is designed for. The array gain, beam width, and maximum grating lobe height are quantified for the Office of Naval Research Five Octave Research Array (ONR-FORA) for various combinations of its uniformly-spaced subapertures, leading to nonuniformly-spaced subarrays. Illustrative examples show angular resolution enhancement provided by the nonuniformly-spaced ONR-FORA subarrays over that of its uniformly-spaced individual subaperture counterparts in both active and passive ocean acoustic waveguide remote sensing, drawn from measurements in the Gulf of Maine 2006 Experiment.
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